Creative Influences of a Social Group: Addressing the Significance of Identity and Acceptance in Learning
This presentation reviews research concerning an experiment in which learning and creativity emerges from struggle. The research suggests that individuals may improve academic achievement and creativity with a newfound sense of recognition and acceptance, and gain authentic identity from the dynamic relations and support of a social group in much the same manner as one does from family. This presentation reviews eight case studies of students enrolled in an advanced visual arts program of a large suburban Texas high school. The students were given opportunities to design their own programs of study for an entire academic school year. An emergent interest of the study reveals significant creative influences of a social group formed by the eight students, a sort of sub-culture. Ostensibly, the group provided an ecology in which some students felt secure enough to take risks with the content and methodologies of their work which, for some, extended well beyond the normal curricular parameters of Secondary Education. Additionally, while the students readily admitted they were part of a self-absorbent and impatient culture, the study exposed their inner struggles with pride and poise when asking for help or advice. However, they clearly exhibited inclinations to improve critical thinking skills and to subsequently break out of conditioned patterns of passive learning. The study documents the conditions under which the group flourished, and advocates a concept that creativity does not come from oneness or sameness, or of merely replicating the past. Rather, creativity emerges from encountering the unknown and the mysterious; from turbulence, disorder, and confusion; and, with the sustaining power of social connections, how encountering that which is most feared becomes most empowering.
Keywords: Creativity, Recognition, Identity, Relations, Social Group, Critical Thinking Skills
Dr. Kenneth R. Austin
Assistant Professor, Department of Secondary Education and Educational Leadership, Stephen F. Austin State University